Garrycastle v Mattock Rangers, Cusack Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Garrycastle will be looking for an improved performance when they welcome Louth champions Mattock Rangers to Cusack Park on Sunday. The Westmeath champions were somewhat lucky to scrape by Longford Slashers in the preliminary round having failed to play to their usually high standard. Yet winning is all that counts at this level and green and red supporters will be happy if they keep scraping through in the coming weeks.
Mattock Rangers have double reason to travel with purpose to Mullingar. Firstly they will be keen to make amends for the drubbing they received at the hands of Portlaoise in last year’s campaign when they embarrassingly lost 2-21 to 0-02. They will be out to redeem themselves on Sunday.
Secondly they would dearly love to give Louth football supporters something to cheer about having suffered a heartbreaking defeat in this year’s Leinster final against neighbours Meath.
Clearly Garrycastle would be foolish to take anything for granted on Sunday. Yet with home advantage and the experience of last year’s campaign under their belt, Anthony Cunningham’s men should progress to the semi-final stage.
Their recent league loss to Kinnegad can be discarded as many regulars were missing, something which I’m sure St Loman’s will not be too happy with, as they are now demoted to division two.
Dessie Dolan is sure to be targeted by the men from the Wee County for special attention following his exploits in the previous round. The rest of the Garrycastle forwards will have to step up to the plate and share the workload. In fairness The Castle have the players to deliver with the likes of Paddy Mulvihill, Paul Dillon, Rory McGowan, Justin McAteer, and Alan Daly all capable of delivering match-winning performances.
With winter conditions well and truly upon us this could be a low scoring affair. Therefore it is important that the south Westmeath men are economical up front and disciplined at the back.
The bookies have installed Garrycastle as 1/3 favourites and while I do expect them to progress I think it will be closer than the betting suggests.